“The physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise… Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body each day” ~ Professor Matthew Walker, sleep scientist, author of Why We Sleep.

When it comes to health and wellbeing, sleep is often neglected, or even sacrificed in favour of nutrition and exercise, and yet sleep is the foundation on which our health and wellbeing sits. Not only will the fatigue bought about by inadequate or poor quality sleep impede our efforts to eat well and exercise, but without sufficient sleep our body and mind will be unable to maximise the benefits of the positive things that we do.

Sleep is a fundamental necessity for life and proper physical, mental and cognitive functioning, and most of us are not getting enough.

  • Sleep stimulates the renewal and response of your immune system, dramatically decreasing your risk of every illness and disease from the common cold to cancer and auto immune conditions.
  • Sleep decreases your risk of ALL preventable causes of mortality including cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, diabetes and accidents
  • Sleep enhances learning by improving short term recall, consolidation of new memories/information to long term memory, increases creativity, focus, concentration and skill mastery, and assists with rational decision making
  • Sleep assists with weight loss by balancing ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that control your appetite, and fine tunes the balance of insulin and glucose in your blood, reducing cravings for sweet, carb rich and salty foods
  • sleep decreases emotional reactivity in the amygdala, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression
  • sleep puts the brake on your sympathetic nervous system, reducing the physical response to stress
  • sleep moderates the release of stress hormones, lowering your heart and respiratory rate and reducing your blood pressure
  • Sleep improves both male and female fertility – improving the quality and quantity of sperm, normalising testosterone levels, and increasing the levels of follicular release hormone
  • Sleep improves endurance, strength and athletic performance
  • Sleep facilitates muscle growth and repair

In short there is not one major organ in the body, or process in the brain that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep, and detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough, and yet around two thirds of adults in the industrialised world do not get the minimum seven hours per night their bodies need to maintain proper physical, mental and emotional functioning.


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Sleep Advice from Professor Matthew Walker